Sports, University News

Non-athletes unfamiliar with recruiting decision

By
Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
This article is part of the series Fall 2011 Student Poll

Many students are not informed about the University’s decision to reduce the number of admissions spots for recruited athletes, according to a recent Herald poll. A plurality of 33.7 percent indicated they were not familiar enough to answer a question about the number of spots, which was revised in October. Both athletes and non-athletes attributed the lack of awareness to a cultural divide between the two groups at Brown.

Just over 27 percent of students indicated 205 — the new number of admissions spots for recruits — was too high or much too high, while 26.8 percent said it was just right and 12.1 percent said it was too low or much too low. But 63.3 percent of varsity athlete respondents said they thought the number was too low.

With one-third of respondents unable to answer, it is difficult to gauge campus opinion about this issue — or whether students even care. Kevin Carty ’15 said it is hard to conceptualize how much of a difference 20 cuts will make and how it will affect non-student-athletes like himself, so most people likely do not give the decision much thought. “There’s less interest (in athletics) here than at other schools,” Carty said.

Most students do not know about issues regarding athletics because “it doesn’t immediately impact them,” said Erika Mueller ’13, a member of the softball team.

This lack of connection to the athletic community should not be taken lightly, as it breeds misconceptions and creates a barrier between athletes and other students, said wrestler Hudson Collins ‘11.5. “I think there is a gap in understanding with the general student population about athletics,” Collins said. “And this misunderstanding is unfortunate.”

Some students believe this barrier exists due to lower academic admissions standards for athletes, a fact President Ruth Simmons confirmed this year. “I want to know that the vast majority of my class worked as hard as I have to get here,” Carty said. “That being said, with a few exceptions, I haven’t met anyone that I thought wasn’t intelligent enough to be here.”

“People really don’t understand the time commitment that it takes to be a student-athlete,” said Leslie Springmeyer ’12, tri-captain of the field hockey team. “There’s a little bit of a lack of respect about the time commitment and how it can affect our learning in school.”

Ryan McDuff ’13, co-captain of the men’s soccer team and co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee with Mueller, said it is difficult to bridge the gap between athletes and other students because athletes spend four or five hours at practice almost every day, when most other students are interacting with each other. Because of these long hours together, Springmeyer said athletes at Brown are a “pretty cohesive, tight-knit group.”

Mike Amato ’11 said he believes having competitive teams helps foster this unity. “When teams are doing well, it kind of brings everyone together,” he said. But Amato said the relationship goes both ways, adding that the current culture on College Hill is not supportive of competitive sports teams. Many teams do not perform well because they are underfunded and understaffed, he said, and students do not pay attention to teams that perform poorly.

Though the reduction in recruitment spots is unfortunate, continually re-examining University priorities is healthy, said Director of Athletics Michael Goldberger. “Views of what is important to an institution will change over time,” he said.

The reduction will encourage the Department of Athletics to address questions of athlete attrition, he said. By updating facilities, growing the budget for athletics and increasing financial aid, the University can make its athletic admissions process more competitive, which will allow teams to perform better and foster more student interest, he said.

“It’s always sort of a battle in athletics to justify its worth to the University,” Goldberger said. But “athletics are an integral part of the academic experience.”

“In my opinion, the sports really help make the college experience,” Amato said. “If you take that away from Brown, then you take away from the school experience.”

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